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  1. 1. Oneil Cruz | SS
    Oneil Cruz
    Born: Oct 4, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'7" Wt.: 210
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
    Signed By: Patrick Guerrero/Franklin Taveras/Bob Engle (Dodgers).
    Minors: .310/.375/.594 | 17 HR | 19 SB | 271 AB

    Track Record: Cruz tests the imagination of evaluators and scouts alike. He first worked out for clubs as a 15-year-old amateur standing at 6-foot-1 in 2015 and signed with the Dodgers for $950,000, but he grew nearly six inches before making his pro debut the following year. The Dodgers traded him to the Pirates for Tony Watson at the 2017 trade deadline. Cruz has been something of a baseball unicorn since as a 6-foot-7 shortstop, inviting annual skepticism that, at some point, a position change is necessary. Yet the immensely talented Cruz continues to stave off such a decision. He spent most of 2021 manning shortstop at Double-A Altoona, where his .530 slugging percentage ranked ninth among all Double-A Northeast hitters with at least 200 plate appearances. Cruz missed nearly seven weeks with a forearm injury, but he made a brief stop in Triple-A after returning and was summoned to Pittsburgh in October. He dazzled in a two-game cameo, homering in his second game while also becoming the tallest starting shortstop in MLB history.

    Scouting Report: Cruz boasts plus power, speed and throwing ability and has a legitimate chance to stick in the infield. He possesses otherworldly raw power, generating elite exit velocities with the leverage created by his long levers. Cruz already owns the Pirates’ record for exit velocity in the Statcast era—a 118.2 mph single in his debut—and is capable of producing 30-homer seasons at his peak. He’ll always battle strikeouts, and his swings and misses are sometimes exacerbated by his aggressive approach. He walked just 7.2% of the time with Altoona, and pitchers can exploit both the inherent length of his swing and his eagerness. There are times pitchers can catch Cruz guessing while hunting specific pitches, but he showed an ability to make adjustments in his approach within an at-bat. Cruz easily has a plus arm, but there is less consensus on where he should deploy it. The Pirates believe Cruz has the ingredients to stick at shortstop, citing his smooth hands and surprisingly deft infield actions. He will always face concerns about his range and ability to handle the demands of the position over a full season, but increased shifting could mitigate some of those worries. Some of his 16 errors came from rushing his throwing mechanics. Cruz is also a plus runner, leading to speculation about a long-term home in either center or right field, but he has yet to appear in the outfield outside of practice settings.

    The Future: The Pirates will give Cruz a chance to win the starting shortstop job out of spring training. While he needs refinement, and the development of other players may ultimately dictate his position, Cruz has the highest impact potential of any player in the system and has one of baseball’s most dynamic skill sets.

  2. 2. Henry Davis | C
    Henry Davis
    Born: Sep 21, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 210
    Signed By: Adam Bourassa.
    Minors: .308/.387/.808 | 3 HR | 1 SB | 26 AB

    Track Record: Davis played his way up draft boards as Louisville’s starting catcher in 2021 and emerged as the clear-cut top collegiate hitter in a class bereft of a true top prospect. The Pirates coveted his profile and drafted him No. 1 overall, signing him for a below-slot $6.5 million. The Pirates sent Davis to High-A Greensboro after a brief tune-up in the Florida Complex League, and he hit a pair of homers in six games before an oblique injury ended his season in late August.

    Scouting Report: The Pirates believe Davis’ swing is tailored to combat modern pitching, even if it looks a bit unorthodox. He greets pitchers with an open, crouched stance, cocks his hands back during his load, then attacks with an ample leg kick and a stride that looks like he’s closing back up as he steps toward the pitcher. Davis worked diligently at Louisville to flatten his bat path, and the Pirates were drawn to his ability to handle both fastballs and breaking balls from various arm angles. Davis is built like a fullback and punishes mistakes with his natural strength and mature strike-zone recognition. Scouts have adored Davis’ plus-plus arm dating back to high school, but he has faced longstanding concerns about his blocking and receiving. He’s athletic enough to handle catching, and some of his defensive concerns could be allayed by the introduction of an automatic ball-strike system.

    The Future: Davis’ advanced offensive ability and the Pirates’ logjam of catchers at the lower levels could lead to an aggressive assignment in 2022. He projects to be the organization’s catcher of the future and has all-star potential on account of his bat.

  3. 3. Nick Gonzales | 2B
    Nick Gonzales
    Born: May 27, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 190
    Drafted/Signed: New Mexico State, 2020 (1st round).
    Signed By: Derrick Van Dusen.
    Minors: .302/.385/.565 | 18 HR | 7 SB | 324 AB

    Track Record: Gonzales arrived at New Mexico State as a walk-on and transformed into one of college baseball’s best hitters. The Pirates drafted him seventh overall in 2020, making him the first pick of general manager Ben Cherington’s tenure. Gonzales’ pro debut in 2021 was interrupted by a broken finger in late May that cost him more than a month, and he started slowly when he returned. But Gonzales turned in a much more productive finish, hitting .322/.424/.661 with 13 homers from Aug. 1 through the end of the season and .380/.483/.539 in the Arizona Fall League.

    Scouting Report: At his best, Gonzales is a hitting machine who sprays line drives to all fields with a simple, inside-out swing optimized for hard contact. He has a sound, mature approach and rarely chases, forcing pitchers to beat him in the zone. Gonzales swung and missed in the strike zone more than expected in his pro debut and posted a surprisingly high 27% strikeout rate, but he still hit over .300 to retain his status as a borderline plus-plus hitter. Gonzales hit 13 of his 18 home runs at his hitter-friendly home park in Greensboro, leading to skepticism about his power. Even so, he’s strong in his frame and projects to reach double-digit home runs. Gonzales plays functional defense at second base and his average arm can make every throw, but his promise is largely tied to his bat.

    The Future: Gonzales is ready for the upper levels and will see Double-A in 2022. He has the ceiling of an offensive-minded second baseman who makes an occasional all-star team.

  4. 4. Roansy Contreras | RHP
    Roansy Contreras
    Born: Nov 7, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 197
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2016.
    Signed By: Juan Rosario (Yankees).
    Minors: 3-2 | 2.64 ERA | 82 SO | 13 BB | 58 IP

    Track Record: Contreras raised his stock as much as any pitching prospect in 2021, gains initially set in motion while he was still in the Yankees’ system. His improvement continued when the Pirates acquired him after the 2020 season in the trade that sent Jameson Taillon to New York. Contreras struck out 36% of batters as he rifled through Double-A and Triple-A, though he missed two months with a forearm strain. Contreras returned in September and continued to impress, culminating in his MLB debut with the Pirates at the end of the season.

    Scouting Report: Contreras has worked diligently to add strength and refine his pitch mix, and the result is an attack rooted in brute force. His fastball now tops out at 98 mph after operating primarily in the low 90s with the Yankees, and it explodes out of his hand at an angle that confuses hitters. He added a slider late in his tenure with the Yankees, giving him two distinct breaking balls, and both flash plus albeit with inconsistent command. Even his changeup, which he uses less frequently, has above-average potential. The Pirates worked with Contreras to better sync the release point of his breaking pitches with his fastball, unlocking more deception and improved spin rates on his curveball, which now tickles 2,900 rpm with better depth. Contreras’ command wavers when he gets over-aggressive with his delivery, but his athleticism allows him to make adjustments on the fly. The larger concern is whether the 6-foot Contreras can sustain hold up under a starter’s workload for a full season.

    The Future: Contreras will enter spring training with a chance to win a spot in the Pirates’ rotation. He has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.

  5. 5. Liover Peguero | SS
    Liover Peguero
    Born: Dec 31, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 160
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2017.
    Signed By: Cesar Geronimo (D-backs).
    Minors: .270/.332/.444 | 14 HR | 28 SB | 374 AB

    Track Record: The D-backs signed Peguero out of the Dominican Republic for $475,000 in 2017, and arrow-up indicators followed shortly thereafter. The Pirates took notice and acquired Peguero with righthander Brennan Malone for Starling Marte before the 2020 season, the first significant trade of the Ben Cherington era. The Pirates sent Peguero to the alternate training site in 2020 to soak up the atmosphere among older competition. Peguero made his full-season debut in 2021 and posted a .776 OPS in 95 games with High-A Greensboro as one of the league’s youngest regulars at 20 years old.

    Scouting Report: Peguero’s blend of dynamic ability and enthusiasm is intriguing, though considerable refinement is needed. His strong hands and wrists generate wicked bat speed and exit velocities, and he continues to steadily add strength to what was once a wiry, high-waisted frame. Peguero is aggressive in all facets of the game. Sometimes that works against him at the plate, evident in his 25% strikeout rate. Continued improvement, especially at recognizing spin, should allow him to unlock an above-average bat and average power. Peguero has all the tools to play shortstop and turns in plenty of highlight-reel plays, but he lacks consistency. He also flashes explosive speed and will likely settle into above-average running ability as he matures, which also leaves the door open for a potential shift to the outfield if his defense plateaus.

    The Future: Peguero is still quite young and appears ready for the upper levels. He has the ceiling of a first-division regular at shortstop, but a ways to go to get there.

  6. 6. Quinn Priester | RHP
    Quinn Priester
    Born: Sep 15, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 195
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Cary, Ill., 2019 (1st round).
    Signed By: Anthony Wycklendt.
    Minors: 7-4 | 3.04 ERA | 98 SO | 39 BB | 98 IP

    Track Record: The Pirates drafted Priester No. 18 overall in 2019 and signed him for $3.4 million out of high school. He became a darling of scouts the following year at instructional league, where he touched 98 mph and showed improved stuff in short stints following the canceled minor league season. Priester was a popular breakout candidate entering 2021 and posted a 3.04 ERA in 97.2 innings for High-A Greensboro, where he was one of the youngest starting pitchers at the level.

    Scouting Report: Priester didn’t quite hold his previous velocity gains and settled into the 94-95 mph range before tailing off at the end of the season. Still, he looks the part of the prototype starting pitcher with a strong frame. He throws two fastballs—a four-seamer and a sinker—and pairs them with a plus curveball, average slider and fringy changeup. Priester added his slider during the coronavirus shutdown while seeking a pitch he could throw to his glove side. It’s a harder offering that sits 89-91 mph and is sometimes confused for a cutter, but is plenty effective. He could stand to throw his fringe-average changeup with more conviction. All of Priester’s pitches play well off the same plane, and he fills up the strike zone with above-average control. He does have some rigidity in his throwing stroke and his delivery can become methodical at times. Priester didn’t miss an overwhelming amount of bats in his debut, but his near 55% groundball rate ranked second among Pirates minor league starters with 90 innings.

    The Future: Priester will still be just 21 years old on Opening Day. He will likely open in Double-A and has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.

  7. 7. Endy Rodriguez | C
    Endy Rodriguez
    Born: May 26, 2000
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 170
    Signed By: Anderson Taveras (Mets).
    Minors: .294/.380/.512 | 15 HR | 2 SB | 377 AB

    Track Record: Rodriguez was an older $10,000 signee at 18 by the Mets and was trending upward when the Pirates acquired him in the three-team deal that sent Joe Musgrove to the Padres after the 2020 season. Rodriguez continued that momentum in his full-season debut in 2021, winning the Low-A Southeast batting title (.294) and posting the league’s lowest strikeout rate (17.7%).

    Scouting Report: Rodriguez receives a steady drumbeat of praise as an ultra-athletic, switch-hitting catcher. He has a clean, direct swing from both sides of the plate and his lefthanded swing is geared for power. Rodriguez projects as a plus hitter thanks to his combination of impressive strike-zone recognition, bat speed and feel for the barrel. He posted the lowest swinging-strike rate (8.3%) of any hitter in his league. Rodriguez has a wiry frame, but he has a chance to sustain average power if he can add more strength. Defensively, Rodriguez is an agile mover behind the plate who adeptly handles velocity. He’s still raw—he never caught full time until turning pro—but he’s a quick learner who has made strides with his blocking and receiving. The Pirates internally rave about his energy and leadership behind the plate. Rodriguez didn’t look out of place in looks at first base and left field, and he may be athletic enough to handle second base.

    The Future: Rodriguez is one of several recent acquisitions who has transformed the Pirates’ catching depth, along with Henry Davis, Abrahan Gutierrez and Carter Bins. Divvying up those reps will be a challenge, but Rodriguez is ready for High-A Greensboro in 2022.

  8. 8. Michael Burrows | RHP
    Michael Burrows
    Born: Nov 8, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 192
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Waterford, Conn., 2018 (11th round).
    Signed By: Eddie Charles.
    Minors: 2-2 | 2.20 ERA | 66 SO | 20 BB | 49 IP

    Track Record: The Pirates bought Burrows out of a Connecticut commitment in 2018 with a $500,000 bonus, hoping to unlock a cold-weather prep pitcher with intriguing spin rates. Burrows showed flashes as a 19-year-old in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2019, then added strength to his frame during the Covid-19 shutdown. He joined High-A Greensboro’s rotation in 2021 and dominated when healthy, striking out 66 hitters in 49 innings, but he missed nearly two months with an oblique injury. The Pirates sent Burrows to the Arizona Fall League to recoup some of those lost innings after the season.

    Scouting Report: Burrows primarily torments hitters with two plus offerings. His fastball, previously in the low 90s at the start of his pro career, now sits 94-97 mph thanks to his strength gains. The pitch has plenty of ride to miss barrels at the top of the strike zone. His high-spin, upper-70s curveball plays off his fastball with hard vertical break, and he’s comfortable throwing it in any count. The Pirates believe his third pitch, a mid-80s changeup, has potential, but Burrows rarely throws it in games, and few external evaluators have seen it. One of Burrows’ Arizona Fall League objectives was to use his changeup more and become comfortable using it behind in counts. Burrows’ command can waver at times, leading to efficiency issues, and he has yet to throw more than 50 innings in a season.

    The Future: Burrows has No. 4 starter potential if his changeup develops. Even if it doesn’t, he could settle into a high-leverage role either as a closer or multi-inning battering ram equipped with two devastating pitches.

  9. 9. Jared Jones | RHP
    Jared Jones
    Born: Aug 6, 2001
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 180
    Drafted/Signed: HS--La Mirada, Calif., 2020 (2nd round).
    Signed By: Brian Tracy.
    Minors: 3-6 | 4.64 ERA | 103 SO | 34 BB | 66 IP

    Track Record: Jones was a famous two-way prospect in high school and was selected for USA Baseball’s Junior National Teams three times as an amateur. The Pirates drafted him in the second round in 2020 and gave him an above-slot $2.2 million to be a full-time pitcher. Jones made his pro debut in 2021 with Low-A Bradenton and missed plenty of bats with 103 strikeouts in 66 innings, but he also struggled with walks and posted a 4.64 ERA in a pitcher-friendly league.

    Scouting Report: Jones is a metrics darling with a live arm. His fastball sits 94-96 mph and can touch as high as 99. He throws two distinct, high-spin breaking balls that mirror his fastball and flash plus, though he struggles to consistently locate both at the same time. Jones leans on his mid-to-upper-80s slider more because he commands it better, and he also throws a low-80s curveball with more vertical break. He also mixes in an upper-80s changeup that has average potential. He throws it with good arm speed, but it needs more separation from his fastball. Jones has plenty of stuff but needs to hone his command to showcase it more consistently. His 6-foot frame and effortful delivery may portend a future shift to the bullpen, but he is immensely athletic and the Pirates believe he’ll continue to improve as a starter. He draws raves for his competitiveness on the mound.

    The Future: Jones can be downright electric on the right night and shows the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter, but he has a lot of work to do to get there.

  10. 10. Carmen Mlodzinski | RHP
    Carmen Mlodzinski
    Born: Feb 19, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 231
    Drafted/Signed: South Carolina, 2020 (1st round supplemental).
    Signed By: Cam Murphy.
    Minors: 2-4 | 3.96 ERA | 66 SO | 22 BB | 53 IP

    Track Record: Mlodzinski had a limited track record at South Carolina because of a foot injury in 2019 and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but the Pirates saw enough in limited time to draft him 31st overall and sign him for $2.05 million. Mlodzinski got his pro career off to a hot start with 51 strikeouts in 37.1 innings at High-A Greensboro before he suffered right shoulder stiffness that sidelined him for more than a month. He was limited to shorter outings upon returning in August, but he still made it to Triple-A for one relief appearance. He finished the year in the Arizona Fall League.

    Scouting Report: Mlodzinski has long had a deep arsenal, if not a true swing-and-miss pitch. He set out to change that in 2021 by relying more on a traditional four-seam fastball with carry through the zone as opposed to his typical sinker-heavy approach. Mlodzinski’s four-seamer sits 93-95 mph and touches 98 and has the potential to play up from his low arm slot, aided even more by his effortful-yet-deceptive delivery. Mlodzinski also throws an average cutter with late life and his assortment of secondaries includes an above-average slider, an above-average, mid-80s changeup he throws with impressive arm speed and the occasional fringy curveball. Sequencing and efficiency can be an issue for Mlodzinski, and he sometimes struggled to finish at-bats. His velocity also tends to fluctuate

    The Future: The health of Mlodzinski’s shoulder and his lack of a true out pitch are concerns. He still has the upside of a back-end starter and could arrive in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later.

  11. 11. Anthony Solometo | LHP
    Anthony Solometo
    Born: Dec 2, 2002
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 220
    Signed By: Dan Radcliff.

    Track Record: Solometo pitched his way up 2021 draft boards, emerging as the No. 4 high school arm in the class behind a fastball that touched 96 mph and a delivery that elicited comparisons to Madison Bumgarner. The Pirates drafted him 37th overall and signed him to an above-slot bonus nearing $2.8 million. Solometo didn’t pitch over the summer but spent time at Pittsburgh’s fall developmental camp.

    Scouting Report: Solometo’s entire operation is memorable. The tall, gangly lefty begins his windup with a big step toward third base, then swings his right leg up into an exaggerated leg kick, holding the ball in his hands above his head. From there, he brings the ball down into a deep, long arm action before exploding down the mound, releasing it from a low arm slot. All the moving parts create considerable deception, only aiding what the Pirates believe is a plus fastball thanks to its low-to-mid-90s velocity, command and ability to throw it in any count. He pairs it with a slider that dives at the foot of righthanded batters and flashes plus. His changeup is more developmental but flashes solid-average potential. Naturally, such an intricate delivery invites skepticism and requires some maintenance, but Solometo’s athleticism allows him to repeat it surprisingly well.

    The Future: Solometo is more advanced than the average prep pitcher, and the Pirates were impressed with his competitiveness and makeup. He has mid-rotation upside.

  12. 12. Matt Fraizer | OF
    Matt Fraizer
    Born: Jan 12, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 205
    Signed By: Derrick Van Dusen
    Minors: .306/.388/.552 | 23 HR | 15 SB | 435 AB

    Track Record: Fraizer was the Pirates system’s breakout star in 2021. He underwhelmed in his 2019 pro debut, posting a .553 OPS in 43 games for short-season West Virginia. The pandemic wiped out Fraizer’s 2020 season like many others, but he broke out with High-A Greensboro in 2021, hitting .314/.401/.578 to lead High-A West in all three triple-slash categories. He was one of the few Pirates prospects to earn a midseason promotion. He joined Double-A Altoona in August.

    Scouting Report: Fraizer’s revelatory season was rooted in a series of changes to simplify his swing and approach, allowing him to access his raw tools more consistently. He quieted his hands to eliminate counter-movement during his load, better incorporated his lower half and sought more extension to drive the ball in the air. Fraizer hit plenty of ground balls to start the season, but he began showing power to all fields by June as he grew more comfortable with his new swing. Fraizer has impressive overall bat speed and made plenty of hard contact against pitchers of both hands, though his swing can get big at times. He’s a plus runner who has a shot to stick in center field, but his fringe-average arm may play better in left.

    The Future: Fraizer tapped into his power more consistently than at any point in his career, and the outfield-needy Pirates took notice. Now, he’ll have to prove his swing changes against upper-level pitchers.

  13. 13. Bubba Chandler | RHP/SS
    Bubba Chandler
    Born: Sep 14, 2002
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 200
    Signed By: Cam Murphy
    Minors: .167/.324/.300 | 1 HR | 0 SB | 30 AB

    Track Record: Chandler expected to play both baseball and football at Clemson until the Pirates offered him $3 million—late first-round money—to turn pro as a 2021 third-round pick. They landed one of the draft’s most compelling prospects. A four-star quarterback recruit, Chandler surged up baseball draft boards after touching 97 mph last spring while showing promise as a legit two-way player. Chandler made his pro debut by appearing in 11 games as a shortstop and DH in the Florida Complex League.

    Scouting Report: Chandler is an elite athlete capable of throwing a football 50 yards lefthanded and easily dunking a basketball. He’s a switch-hitter with real raw power. But the Pirates view him first as a pitcher, where most evaluators feel he has immense upside. Chandler has a fast, strong arm and already runs his fastball into the low-to-mid 90s from a high arm slot. His secondaries were inconsistent as an amateur, but his breaking ball showed above-average spin and he throws a work-in-progress changeup. He’s also experimented with both a slider and a cutter. Chandler’s mechanics are quite raw. He has never focused on baseball full time. At the plate, Chandler is a switch-hitter with solid raw power, albeit with swing-and-miss concerns. He has the range and arm strength to handle shortstop.

    The Future: There are few comparisons for Chandler, and the Pirates plan to allow him to pursue both pitching and hitting. It may be a slow burn, but his athleticism and raw skills create immense upside.

  14. 14. Lonnie White | OF
    Lonnie White
    Born: Dec 31, 2002
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 212
    Signed By: Dan Radcliff
    Minors: .258/.303/.516 | 2 HR | 0 SB | 31 AB

    Track Record: White ranked as the No. 32 prospect in the 2021 draft, but a two-sport commitment to Penn State to play both baseball and football created signability questions. Pittsburgh went nearly $500,000 over slot to sign White, taking him No. 64 overall. He debuted in the Florida Complex League, hitting .258 with a pair of homers in nine games.

    Scouting Report: White was a four-star wide receiver recruit and his explosiveness shows up frequently on the diamond. He’s a powerful athlete with ample strength and bat speed. His plus raw power from the right side already puts him among some of the most powerful bats in Pittsburgh’s system, and he showed a track record of in-game, impactful hitting ability as an amateur. There are swing-and-miss concerns—he struck out 42% of the time in his nine-game FCL debut—but the Pirates noted he already showed impressive adjustability in approach and think he’ll improve in that area now that he’s focusing on baseball for the first time. White is a plus runner who covers a ton of ground in center field and also shows impressive instincts.

    The Future: White’s blend of power, speed and performance create high upside. The Pirates are eager to see how he progresses with a full year to focus solely on baseball.

  15. 15. Travis Swaggerty | OF
    Travis Swaggerty
    Born: Aug 19, 1997
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 183
    Drafted/Signed: South Alabama, 2018 (1st round).
    Signed By: Darren Mazeroski.
    Minors: .220/.333/.439 | 3 HR | 3 SB | 41 AB

    Track Record: Swaggerty represented a relatively safe profile ahead of the 2018 draft as a lefthanded outfielder with extensive college track record at South Alabama, where he hit 28 homers and walked more than he struck out. Pittsburgh selected Swaggerty 10th overall, intrigued by the power-speed potential. But the consistency Swaggerty showed in college hasn’t materialized as a professional. He slugged just .381 in 2019 at High-A Bradenton, then spent all of 2020 at Pittsburgh’s alternate site. His 2021 season ended after 12 games with Triple-A Indianapolis when he dislocated his non-throwing shoulder diving back to first base, requiring season-ending surgery.

    Scouting Report: Swaggerty always showed advanced understanding of the strike zone, but too often he chased power at the expense of contact. The Pirates believed Swaggerty was heading toward a breakout season, noting that his improved swing decisions led to more frequent hard contact, and he appeared more upright in his setup at the plate compared to two years ago. Evaluators may need more convincing when it comes to Swaggerty’s bat, but few question his defensive chops. He’s a plus defender with an above-average arm. Swaggerty likely would have been regarded as one of the best defensive center fielders in the upper levels had he stayed healthy.

    The Future: Pittsburgh rued the timing of Swaggerty’s injury as it cycled through center field options in the big leagues in 2021. He has the ceiling of a second-division starter if he can demonstrate more consistent hitting ability.

  16. 16. Diego Castillo | 2B/3B
    Diego Castillo
    Born: Oct 28, 1997
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 170
    Signed By: Roney Calderon (Yankees)
    Minors: .278/.355/.487 | 19 HR | 9 SB | 388 AB

    Track Record: Castillo was a skilled, instinctual infielder when the Yankees signed him as part of their historic 2014 international signing class that shattered their bonus pool at the time. But Castillo moved slowly through New York’s system until his breakout season in 2021, when he hit 19 homers across two levels. The Yankees dealt Castillo and shortstop Hoy Park to Pittsburgh at the deadline for reliever Clay Holmes, and the Pirates added Castillo to their 40-man roster after the season.

    Scouting Report: Castillo always possessed strong barrel awareness and feel for contact, but without power production. He used baseball’s shutdown in 2020 to add strength to his frame and work diligently with the Yankees’ hitting instructors to tamp down his overaggressive approach, learning which pitches to seek and destroy. The changes resulted in higher exit velocities and noticeably more damage, suggesting average power potential. Castillo also turned in a 10% walk rate, the best of his career. He’s a below-average runner, and evaluators don’t envision Castillo sticking at shortstop, but he’s fundamentally sound and has an average arm at both second and third base.

    The Future: Some evaluators now see Castillo as a future big league hitter without a true defensive home. He’s one of several utility types with a shot at winning the Pirates’ second base job in 2022.

  17. 17. Miguel Yajure | RHP
    Miguel Yajure
    Born: May 1, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 175
    Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2015.
    Signed By: Cesar Suarez/Ricardo Finol. (Yankees)
    Minors: 2-4 | 3.40 ERA | 45 SO | 14 BB | 48 IP

    Track Record: A right forearm injury limited Pittsburgh’s opportunity to evaluate Yajure his first year in the organization after being dealt from the Yankees in the Jameson Taillon trade. Yajure signed with New York for just $30,000 in 2015, then missed all of 2017 after having Tommy John surgery. New York summoned him for his MLB debut in the shortened 2020 season, but 2021 represented Yajure’s first opportunity at sustaining a role in the big leagues.

    Scouting Report: Yajure relies on pitchability more than pure stuff. As such, his margin for error is thinner than others, but he combats hitters with a deep arsenal that runs six pitches deep. He throws a low-90s fastball with decent shape to it, but big league hitters hit .429 against it in a small sample. Yajure added a low-90s cutter in 2019, and his most effective secondary is a 12-6 curveball he throws in the upper 70s and tunnels with his four-seamer. Yajure also throws a solid-average changeup and mixes in a slider as well. His minor league track record suggests he can throw his entire arsenal for strikes, though his command has wavered as a big leaguer.

    The Future: Pittsburgh needs Yajure to stay healthy and add more strength. If he can, he’ll have an opportunity to compete for innings in Pittsburgh and settle in as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

  18. 18. Tahnaj Thomas | RHP
    Tahnaj Thomas
    Born: Jun 16, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 190
    Drafted/Signed: Bahamas, 2016.
    Signed By: Koby Perez (Indians).
    Minors: 3-3 | 5.19 ERA | 62 SO | 35 BB | 61 IP

    Track Record: Thomas was a shortstop in the Bahamas as an amateur and first tried pitching in 2016 only out of necessity—his travel team ran out of arms at a tournament. But he quickly took to it and converted full time shortly after, signing with Cleveland that year. He was traded to the Pirates two years later, and he showed immense upside as a developmental arm. Thomas was one of several high-profile arms in High-A Greensboro’s rotation in 2021 and struggled, walking more than five batters per nine innings.

    Scouting Report: Thomas is highly athletic and can touch triple digits thanks to his considerable arm strength. He sits in the upper 90s when he stays on top of his fastball out of a high arm slot. It shows impressive ride and late life in the zone. But Thomas struggles to sync his delivery, causing the quality of his fastball to suffer, and scouts noted he sometimes throttles down in velocity to throw strikes. Breaking pitch development is key to Thomas’ trajectory. So far, he’s shown a streaky ability to land his slurvy slider for strikes but doesn’t consistently spin it. He also throws an average changeup, though multiple evaluators speculated he may benefit from swapping it for more of a splitter to pair with the power fastball.

    The Future: Thomas was always going to move slowly because of his lack of pitching experience. The Pirates still believe he can start, citing his competitiveness, athleticism and development window. He’ll need to find a consistent breaking ball, and his strike-throwing needs to take a leap forward, but he has the fallback option of a high-leverage reliever.

  19. 19. Maikol Escotto | SS
    Maikol Escotto
    Born: Jun 4, 2002
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 180
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2018.
    Signed By: Juan Rosario/Esteban Castillo.
    Minors: .234/.354/.347 | 7 HR | 22 SB | 320 AB

    Track Record: The Yankees signed Escotto for $350,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, and he was an arrow-up name after posting a .981 OPS in his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League. He was one of four players traded to the Pirates in the Jameson Taillon trade in January 2021 and spent all season with Low-A Bradenton.

    Scouting Report: Escotto has considerable upside and ran the gamut of experiences in his first year of full-season ball. The 19-year-old posted an .801 OPS and hit all seven of his regular season homers through July—but his OPS afterward was just .593. Escotto has a simple, efficient swing with the chance for above-average power potential, generating exit velocities up to 109 mph with Bradenton. The Pirates were impressed with how his swing played against sliders early in the year. But Escotto’s high strikeout (30.4%) and grouball (53.8%) rates were concerns. He’ll need to continue to add strength to impact the ball more effectively throughout a full season. Escotto’s actions checked out defensively at shortstop, where he displays the requisite range and arm to stick at the position, though he could eventually move across the keystone as an offensive-minded second baseman depending on how his body matures.

    The Future: Plenty of refinement at the lower levels is needed for Escotto, but the raw ingredients of a high-upside middle infield prospect remain.

  20. 20. Rodolfo Castro | 2B/3B
    Rodolfo Castro
    Born: May 21, 1999
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 210
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015.
    Signed By: Rene Gayo, Juan Mercaso, and Jose Ortiz.
    Minors: .247/.300/.450 | 15 HR | 7 SB | 320 AB

    Track Record: Castro became a sensation in 2021, six years after he signed for $150,000 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic. Despite never appearing above High-A, he impressed at Pittsburgh’s alternate training site during the shutdown. He opened 2021 at Double-A Altoona, but the Pirates summoned him for a one-game MLB debut in April. He returned in July and his first five big league hits were homers—a modern era record.

    Scouting Report: Castro is an energetic free-swinger with considerable raw power from both sides of the plate. Such a profile comes with stark highs and lows. Castro posted just a .458 OPS over his final 22 games following his homer-happy start, striking out 31% of the time. Castro’s swing is geared for damage—his max exit velocity in Pittsburgh was 112.5 mph—but he struggles with breaking balls and doesn’t walk much. He’s a solid-average runner and is a serviceable defender at shortstop, second and third base.

    The Future: Castro could compete for Pittsburgh’s starting second base job in 2021 and has a future as utility infielder with thump.

  21. 21. Rodolfo Nolasco | OF
    Rodolfo Nolasco
    Born: Sep 23, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 175
    Signed By: Victor Santana
    Minors: .284/.409/.552 | 8 HR | 0 SB | 134 AB

    Track Record: Pittsburgh signed Nolasco for $235,000 in 2018 after he stood out for his raw power, and he performed well in his first taste of Rookie ball in 2019. A spring training injury delayed Nolasco’s season in 2021, and the Pirates opted to keep him in the Florida Complex League. Nolasco showed power, homering eight times and leading the FCL in slugging (.552).

    Scouting Report: Nolasco’s raw power rivals any hitter in Pittsburgh’s system. He’s physically strong and continues to add strength to his frame, resulting in ample bat speed. He crushes fastballs when he’s on time. Nolasco also shows breaking ball recognition, but his swing mechanics suggest he will always have to manage swing-and-miss. He struck out 26% of the time in the FCL. Nolasco will likely be a below-average runner as he matures, limiting him to a corner outfield spot. He split time between right field and DH in 2021.

    The Future: Nolasco is a long way away, but few 20-year-olds can match his raw power. He’s ready for Low-A Bradenton in 2022.

  22. 22. Abrahan Gutierrez | C
    Abrahan Gutierrez
    Born: Oct 31, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 214
    Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2017.
    Signed By: Carlos Salas (Phillies)
    Minors: .290/.428/.441 | 5 HR | 0 SB | 245 AB

    Track Record: Gutierrez was set to sign with the Braves for $3.53 million in 2017, a record at the time for an international amateur catcher, but MLB voided the deal because of the Braves’ international infractions. He eventually signed with the Phillies for $550,000 and showed encouraging bat-to-ball skills but inconsistent conditioning. The Pirates acquired Gutierrez at the 2021 deadline in a deal for reliever Braeden Ogle, and he exceeded their expectations at Low-A Bradenton.

    Scouting Report: The Pirates were impressed with Gutierrez’s mature approach. He was one of Pittsburgh’s most selective hitters, walking more than he struck out, while also posting one of the lower chase rates in the system. He doesn’t post overwhelming exit velocities and there’s some length to his swing, leading to fringe-average power potential. Gutierrez will have to work diligently to maintain his body, and the Phillies said he did a better job of it in 2021. He also earned positive reviews for improvements with pitch-calling and receiving. Gutierrez’s fringy arm is susceptible to basestealers.

    The Future: Pittsburgh suddenly has a glut of catching prospects, but Gutierrez distinguished himself after the trade deadline. He has the hitting ability and defensive chops to project as a part-time MLB catcher.

  23. 23. Hudson Head | OF
    Hudson Head
    Born: Apr 8, 2001
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 180
    Drafted/Signed: HS--San Antonio, 2019 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Kevin Ham. (Padres)
    Minors: .213/.362/.394 | 15 HR | 3 SB | 348 AB

    Track Record: Teams didn’t have much history with Head, who was a high school quarterback in Texas, prior to his emergence as a popup prospect for the 2019 draft. That didn’t stop the Padres from signing him for $3 million in the third round. He flashed explosive tools in limited instructional league looks with San Diego, and was sent to Pittsburgh in the Joe Musgrove trade after the 2020 season. Head showed power but struck out 31.6% of the time with Low-A Bradenton in 2021.

    Scouting Report: Scouts struggled to evaluate Head in 2021. He showed above-average power potential at times, hitting 15 homers, with bat speed to produce above-average exit velocities from his wiry frame. But multiple evaluators expected a bit more physicality based on what he had shown previously in 2019. Head also struggled with premium velocity at times, especially at the top of the zone, leading to concerns his swing is a bit grooved. He also struggled mightily against lefthanders. The Pirates worked with Head to shorten his swing throughout the season. Defensively, Head is a solid defender with the arm to handle any outfield position, but his speed and arm may ultimately play better in a corner.

    The Future: Those bullish on Head will give him a mulligan for 2021, citing his age and uneven development timeline. He has the floor of a fourth outfielder with more upside if he can make more contact.

  24. 24. Jack Suwinski | OF
    Jack Suwinski
    Born: Jul 29, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 206
    Signed By: Troy Hoerner (Padres)
    Minors: .262/.383/.485 | 19 HR | 11 SB | 367 AB

    Track Record: The Padres popped Suwinski, a cold-weather high school product, in the 15th round of the 2016 draft, signing him for $550,000. He spent six years in San Diego’s system, rising to Double-A San Antonio, where he hit a career-high 15 homers in just 66 games in 2021. The Pirates acquired him in a trade deadline deal for all-star second baseman Adam Frazier.

    Scouting Report: Suwinski hits the ball hard. His 90 mph average exit velocity ranked among the best in Pittsburgh’s system upon his arrival. He also hit the ball in the air more frequently than any point in his career previously, tapping into his pull-side power. That equation yielded his best season as a pro and led to Pittsburgh adding Suwinski to the 40-man roster after the season. His 28% strikeout rate and issues against same-side pitchers are concerns for evaluators, who note there’s some stiffness in his swing. But he also walks plenty, is unafraid of deep counts and minimizes chase thanks to an advanced understanding of the strike zone. Suwinski isn’t a dynamic athlete defensively, but he’s an average runner with a solid-average arm who played almost exclusively at both corner outfield positions in 2021.

    The Future: His struggles against lefties may limit Suwinski to a platoon role, but his power and plate discipline should allow him to reach the big leagues in relatively short order.

  25. 25. Ji-Hwan Bae | 2B/OF
    Ji-Hwan Bae
    Born: Jul 26, 1999
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 170
    Drafted/Signed: South Korea, 2018.
    Signed By: Fu-chun Chiang/Tony Harris.
    Minors: .281/.360/.422 | 8 HR | 20 SB | 327 AB

    Track Record: Bae planned to sign with the Braves in 2017 until his contract was disapproved after MLB disciplined Atlanta for violating international signing rules. He signed with the Pirates in 2018 for $1.25 million. A year later, he served a 30-game suspension after he was convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend in South Korea. After including Bae at their alternate site in 2020, Pittsburgh sent him to Double-A Altoona in 2021.

    Scouting Report: Speed and contact skills define Bae’s game, although added strength allowed him to impact the ball a bit more in 2021. He hit the first eight homers of his pro career in the U.S. With that came more swing-and-miss concerns from evaluators. Most agree Bae still projects as a table-setter type who should use his barrel control skills and legit 70-grade speed, with the caveat that his baserunning instincts still need work. His defensive position remains in question. Pittsburgh moved him to second base in 2021, and scouts weren’t overly impressed with his actions. Bae also played nine games in center field, where his speed may end up being more of an asset.

    The Future: Without a defined defensive home, Bae may settle into a speedy super-utility role, putting even more stress on his contact skills.

  26. 26. Connor Scott | OF
    Connor Scott
    Born: Oct 8, 1999
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 187
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Tampa, Fla. 2018 (1st round).
    Signed By: Donavan O'Dowd (Marlins).
    Minors: .276/.333/.446 | 10 HR | 14 SB | 395 AB

    Track Record: Scott was the 13th overall pick in 2018, out of Tampa’s Plant High, which also produced Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso. The Marlins signed Scott for $4,038,200 to keep him from following Alonso’s path to playing at Florida. He scuffled in his first two seasons before the pandemic, but produced much better in terms of batting average in 2021 at High-A Beloit. Pittsburgh acquired Scott and righthander Kyle Nicolas from Miami in a November 2021 trade for Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings.

    Scouting Report: The development for Scott was always going to take a while and was contingent on him getting stronger, which has happened slowly but surely. The result this year was a solid season that flew a bit under the radar. Scott was one of five players in the minor leagues who—in fewer than 100 games—accumulated 25 doubles, 10 home runs and 14 stolen bases while striking out fewer than 100 times. Further, he was one of just two players to accomplish those feats at age 21 or younger. The Marlins worked with Scott at instructional league to hone his swing decisions, which they believe will help him access more pull-side power as he continues to get stronger. Defensively, scouts see Scott as a potentially average center fielder with a plus arm and above-average speed.

    The Future: Scott’s first test at the upper levels should come in 2022, when he’ll advance to Double-A. He has the ceiling of a regular center fielder on a second-division club or a backup on a championship contender.

  27. 27. Tucupita Marcano | 2B/OF
    Tucupita Marcano
    Born: Sep 16, 1999
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 165
    Drafted/Signed: Venezuela, 2016.
    Signed By: Antonio Alejos/Chris Kemp/Yfrain Linares (Padres).
    Minors: .251/.345/.358 | 7 HR | 12 SB | 355 AB

    Track Record: The Padres signed Marcano out of Venezuela for $320,000 in 2016. He built a reputation as a hitting machine against older pitchers and made San Diego’s Opening Day roster in 2021 despite never playing in the upper levels. Marcano was the key prospect included in the Padres’ deadline deal with Pittsburgh for second baseman Adam Frazier. He spent the rest of the season with Triple-A Indianapolis.

    Scouting Report: Without much power, Marcano’s profile heavily relies on his exceptional barrel awareness and strike-zone control. He makes it work, using his direct, compact lefthanded swing and deft pitch recognition allows him to spray line drives to all fields at will. Marcano rarely generates much impact, though, because he lacks sufficient strength in his thin frame. Scouts believe Marcano looks most comfortable at second base, but is likely ticketed for a utility role in the big leagues because of his versatility. He appeared at second base, shortstop, third base and both corner outfield positions in 2021.

    The Future: It’s easy to forget Marcano will be just 22 years old on Opening Day. He’s yet another potential option in the Pirates’ wide-open second base competition entering 2022.

  28. 28. Canaan Smith-Njigba | OF
    Canaan Smith-Njigba
    Born: Apr 30, 1999
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 215
    Drafted/Signed: Mexico, 2017.
    Signed By: Mike Leuzinger. (Yankees)
    Minors: .258/.381/.379 | 6 HR | 13 SB | 240 AB

    Track Record: The Pirates acquired Smith-Njigba via the Yankees in the January 2021 Jameson Taillon trade. He missed six weeks with a thigh injury in 2021, but got on base at a nearly 40% clip when healthy for Double-A Altoona and earned a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis at the end of the season. Pittsburgh added Smith-Njigba to the 40-man roster after the season.

    Scouting Report: Smith-Njigba packs a lot of strength onto his sturdy 240-pound frame, leading to impressive exit velocities. His discerning eye allows him to wait for pitches he can punish. He needs to hit the ball in the air more to maximize his bat speed. His groundball rate spiked to 66% in 2021. Smith-Njigba’s body is mature for his age, but he was a star high school quarterback, while his younger brother Jaxon is a star wide receiver at Ohio State. He’s an average runner underway and shows impressive basestealing instincts. Defensively, he’s likely limited to left field as a fringe-average defender and thrower.

    The Future: Smith-Njigba’s combination of hitting ability and power potential could be enough to carve out a corner outfield role in the big leagues.

  29. 29. Kyle Nicolas | RHP
    Kyle Nicolas
    Born: Feb 22, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 223
    Drafted/Signed: Ball State, 2020 (2nd round supplemental).
    Signed By: Joe Dunigan.
    Minors: 6-4 | 4.18 ERA | 136 SO | 49 BB | 99 IP

    Track Record: Nicolas’ strikeout and walk rates improved at Ball State in the brief 2020 season, leading to the Marlins to draft him with the 61st overall pick. He spent his first year as a pro between High-A Beloit and Double-A Pensacola. The Pirates acquired him with Connor Scott in a deal for catcher Jacob Stallings in November.

    Scouting Report: Nicolas’ pure stuff is excellent. His mix is fronted by a four-seam fastball that averages 94 mph and has touched as high as 98. The pitch gets swings and misses thanks to its spin rate, horizontal break and vertical approach angle. Nicolas backs his fastball with a trio of a low-80s curveball, a mid-80s slider and a mid-80s changeup, with the curveball being thrown the most frequently. None of his offspeed pitches jumps off the page for anything but velocity, though both breaking balls get swings and misses at above-average or better rates. The changeup needs the most work, and its development was a focal point throughout the year.

    The Future: Nicolas has the body and arm of a power pitcher, but in his first test as a pro did not show the control or command required to start. If that doesn’t improve, he’s likely bound for a bullpen role.

  30. 30. Cody Bolton | RHP
    Cody Bolton
    Born: Jun 19, 1998
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 185
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Tracy, Calif., 2017 (6th round).
    Signed By: Mike Sansoe.

    Track Record: A velocity bump helped Bolton rise to Double-A Altoona in 2019 and emerge as one of Pittsburgh’s top prospects. He hasn’t pitched in an official game since. Bolton missed all of 2021 after having knee surgery in May. Injuries have frequently stalled his development: He missed time with a forearm injury in 2018 and a groin strain in 2019.

    Scouting Report: Bolton’s pitch mix is aggressive. His fastball touches 97 mph and regularly sits 93-96. His two-seam fastball is a touch slower, but generates plenty of ground balls, and he added a cutterish slider in 2019 that flashed above-average. His lengthy arm path concerned evaluators in the past, but he was a solid strike-thrower at the lower levels. Bolton spent much of 2021 rehabbing at the Pirates’ complex in Florida, and the team is encouraged with the improvements he has made with his conditioning.

    The Future: Bolton needs to stay healthy to achieve his ceiling of a No. 4 starter, though the lost development and concerns with his delivery could ultimately push him to the bullpen.

View Players 11-30

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